Economic Development:

Request for Relief

B-193701: Published: Mar 18, 1980. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1985.

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A senator requested reconsideration of a decision which denied relief to an imprest fund cashier for the loss of $4,000. The cashier was responsible for the imprest fund under emergency conditions while he was serving as a member of a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Disaster Response Team sent to provide relief following a flood. The team lived under harsh conditions and worked long hours, so the cashier had to perform his duties while he was very fatigued. At the time of the loss, contrary to policy, HUD had not yet provided a safe in the Disaster Relief Office. The cashier kept the funds in a lockable bag during business hours on the day of the loss. The cashier admitted that he placed the lockable bag in his briefcase, some other similar briefcase, or misplaced it elsewhere in the office. Although HUD requested that relief be granted to him, GAO denied relief because it found that the cashier's negligence had caused the loss. The record at that time did not reflect the severity of the living and working conditions at the disaster relief site. After careful consideration of the new facts supplied by the cashier concerning those conditions, GAO believed its previous evaluation of the cashier's conduct was too harsh. It believed that his actions were as reasonable as could be expected in the very difficult circumstances surrounding this loss. GAO concurred with the HUD determination that the cashier was not negligent and, accordingly, granted relief.

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